With the Florida-Tennessee game coming up on Saturday, it made sense there would be an orange and blue theme on Friday night.
University of Florida commit Myles Graham, the son of former Gator football player Earnest Graham, scored three touchdowns, including a 97-yard scoring run, as Buchholz defeated visiting Creekside (St. Johns), 49-20, at Citizens Field in a Class 4S-District 3 game.
“All thanks to my O-line,” said Graham, who is being recruited to UF as a linebacker. “They gave me the right holes, they gave me the right direction, so I just followed them and I went to the house, so I’m just thankful for them.”
Graham was called into more duty on the offensive side of the ball as starting running back Quinton Cutler was recovering from an injury sustained in last week’s win against Eastside.
“I didn’t expect to play offense, but he got hurt, so I had to step up,” Graham said. “I had to fill in. Those were some big shoes to fill.”
Although he is a 4-star athlete and rated the No. 4 senior linebacker nationally by 247Sports, the UF commit got a chance to show what he could do on the offensive side of the ball.
He added touchdown runs of 67 and 25 yards and almost reached 200 yards (189) just on his three scoring plays, easily surpassing 200 yards on the night.
Graham finished with 204 yards rushing on only nine carries.
“This is my best offensive game so far,” Graham said. “Ninety-seven yards, that’s my longest run I’ve ever had in my career.”
But the game wasn’t just about the future Gator.
Sophomore quarterback Trace Johnson, who is the son of former Gator quarterback Doug Johnson, threw three first quarter touchdowns, all to sophomore wide receiver Justin Williams.
“Everybody was worried about Trace and the interceptions (3 last week vs. Eastside) and stuff like that, and I said it last week, he’s a 15-year old kid that was in his third start against a team that was basically dropping eight against him,” said Buchholz coach Chuck Bell. “He made some bad decisions last week but…Trace Johnson is our starting quarterback and we’re blessed to have him.”
He may be a kid but he was playing like his dad, especially in the opening quarter.
On their first offensive play of the game, Johnson found Williams on a 59-yard pass play just 1:30 into the game. A fake extra point and 2-point conversion pass to another UF commit, Kendall Jackson, gave the Bobcats an 8-0 lead with 10:30 to play in the first quarter.
Following a 24-yard touchdown run by Creekside junior running back Harrison Garrido to make it 8-6 with 7:35 to play in the first quarter, Johnson and Williams hooked up again.
It took the Bobcats just 1:30 to drive 80 yards for the score, capping the drive with a 21-yard scoring pass from Johnson to Williams.
The duo hooked up on a 49-yard scoring pass but Williams did a lot of the work in the open field before taking it to the house.
“Justin’s our leader in receptions right now, leader in yards, Justin’s a great player,” Bell said. “He can play tailback, can play outside the X and the Z, can play inside at the slots. You talk about a sophomore that is underrated right now. We haven’t played a better receiver than Justin this year, and that’s no slight to anybody that we’ve played…he’s got the heart of a lion and the heart of a Bobcat. Justin played awesome.”
Two blocked punts and a fumble opened the door for Creekside (1-3, 0-1) to rally in the second quarter.
Cooper Maurer made a 39-yard field goal and connected on a 46-yard field goal with 38 seconds to play in the half, sandwiched around a 3-yard touchdown run by Knights’ quarterback Sean Ashenfelder and a 2-point conversion run, to make it an eight-point game at the half, 28-20.
“The special teams blunders were frankly embarrassing, and we’ll fix that,” Bell said.
Buchholz took the second half kick and marched 80 yards for the score, finishing the drive with Graham’s 25-yard run.
Down 35-20, Maurer missed a 47-yard field goal with 39 seconds to play in the third quarter.
Senior running back Jordan Richardson finished off the scoring for Buchholz (4-0, 1-0) with a 38-yard touchdown run.
The win sets up an unbeaten showdown on Homecoming next Friday night from Citizens Field against Vanguard (Ocala), which defeated Leesburg, 42-29, to move to 4-0.
“The good thing is that our team has faced plenty of adversity,” Bell said. “I hope to never hear, ‘with all these players it must be easy,’ I can assure you that it’s not. I can assure you that every team has adversity, every team has issues, it’s a blessing that we’re as talented as we are but just because we’re talented doesn’t mean that it’s easy and so these guys have to come to work just like we’re 0-0. We play Vanguard and Vanguard’s darn good.”
Next Friday’s game will be broadcast on 106.9 FM “I am Country” beginning at 7 p.m. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 15
Buchholz, 49, Creekside (St. Johns) 20
Hawthorne, 41, South Sumter (Bushnell) 21
Oak Hall 57, Bronson 6
Newberry 24, Calvary Christian (Clearwater) 21
Bradford (Starke) 34, Eastside 7
Union County (Lake Butler) 49, P.K. Yonge 12
Clay (Green Cove Springs) 35, GHS 14
North Marion (Citra) 31, Santa Fe (Alachua) 17
Bishop McLaughlin Catholic (Spring Hill) 44, St. Francis Catholic Academy 16
Williston 42, Dunnellon 12
Keystone Heights 49, Bell 0
Chiefland 22, Lafayette (Mayo) 13
Madison County 22, Columbia (Lake City) 8
Fort White 49, Hamilton County (Jasper) 0
Branford 21, Hilliard 18
Dixie County (Cross City) 28, Wewahitchka 0
Suwannee (Live Oak) 40, Munroe (Quincy) 6
OFF – Trenton